** NOTE ** This Troutbitten article relies and builds upon many articles that have come before it. Find and follow the article links below as they appear in orange. They are significant chapters of knowledge that precede this one.
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All fishing casts are about weight. Throw your Daredevil spoon by the tree stump. Tie on a Jitterbug and plop it near the lily pads. Fire your Zoo Cougar to the undercut, send your drop shot, split shot or tungsten bead along with the Pheasant Tail or . . . cast that Royal Wulff off the inside of a foam line.
It’s all about weight, whether that be the metal of lead, tungsten or brass, whether it’s soft plastic, hard plastic or a fly line itself. Weight does the work.
Fly anglers presenting nymphs have a key choice to make from the start. Indicator or tight line? Having the skill to fish both styles opens up water and fishing opportunities that are otherwise missed or skipped over. And there are major advantages to fishing indicators, just as there are times that a tight line presentation cannot be beat.
Combining these two styles is another option. And the hybrid system of tight line to the indicator brings together some of the best advantages from each style.
Weight of the Indy
I daresay most anglers don’t think about weight when choosing an indicator. Holding a Thingamabobber or an Air Lock in your hand doesn’t feel like much. But our brain does a strange bit of magic there. Because a small Airlock weighs more than a #12 Walt’s Worm with a 3.5 mm bead.
Crazy, isn’t it?
The weight of the indy matters because it becomes part of the cast. And all of the sudden, we must adjust our stroke and our approach to accommodate that weight.
In truth, the weight of an indicator can provide an advantage. It helps carry the leader and fly to the target, providing distance and cutting through resistance on a breezy day. Weight does good work in these situations.
But for decades, nymphing anglers have intuitively understood the advantage of choosing an indicator that weighs less . . . or weighs next to nothing. Hence, the popularity of yarn indicators.
Yarn is the lightest option for a suspender. Cork, foam and even a dry fly all weigh more than a small piece of yarn that is elegantly attached with a rubber band or a thin rubber tube.
Long ago, I fell in love with a yarn indicator system that I learned in a short video on the Blue Quill Angler website. It featured Pat Dorsey, a chunk of macrame yarn, and an orthodontic rubber band.
What we at Troutbitten have affectionately called the Dorsey has undergone a few changes over the years. I use less yarn, two colors for better visibility and smaller bands. I pre-bunch the yarn at my tying desk with minimal wraps of 8/0 Uni-Thread, and sometimes . . . just once in a while . . . I add a small piece of split shot to the line above the indy. Wait, what?
What the Hell is That?
Confusion and some chuckling is the response from everyone whom I’ve shown this trick.
It’s a hack. Adding a small amount of weight is a way around one of the only downsides of a yarn indy. Because sometimes, even a small amount of yarn provides too much air resistance to the cast. This is especially and most frequently a trouble when fishing tight line to the indicator style (mentioned above). Because without the weight of a traditional fly line to punch the leader, yarn and fly to the target, we rely on the mass of the leader itself. We rely on a good casting stroke. And we rely on the weight of the fly. But sometimes, none of that is enough.
Enter the TB yarn indy hack . . .
By adding just a bit of weight, the air resistance issue is overcome. I use a #8 or #6 split shot. I place it above the TB Yarn (toward the rod tip) and right next to it.
The questions running through your head now are probably the same as the questions I had when I first thought of this hack.
Does the Yarn Sink?
No. Basically, if the yarn can support 75 cg underneath, then it can probably support 75 cg next to it, right? This makes sense. However, I rarely use any shot larger than #6 (10 cg), because it isn’t necessary.
Does that split shot change the performance of the yarn?
Yes, but just a tiny bit.
One of the great advantages of yarn as an indy is how supremely sensitive it is. Yarn is nimble on the water and rides high. The points of the fibers quiver and jiggle at the slightest take or contact underneath. Adding weight beside the yarn deadens that response, but not by much. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Does the added weight cause a splash?
No. The yarn acts like a parachute to soften the landing of the shot beside it.
Why not choose a bobber?
Bobbers and other hard indys have their own advantages, and I would never be without them on the water. But this hack allows me to use yarn and all its unique qualities while also overcoming the occasional issue of air resistance.
When and Where?
The TB Yarn hack is one of those strange DIY solutions that will never go mainstream. It’s too odd. Also, some people don’t carry split shot, and they probably won’t start carrying it, just to pinch it on above a piece of yarn once in a while.
The TB Yarn is my favorite indy, by far. And I use it as my go to suspender solution whenever I can. With this yarn hack, the range of situations where yarn is my best choice is expanded. That small split shot solves a lot of problems.
I still use hard indys, like Thingamabobbers, to cut through more wind or gain more distance. And I use them to suspend flies in rough water that would sink the best yarn.
I’ve been using this hack for well over a decade, and I employ it most for summer nymphing or in low, clear water where I should stay back another five or ten feet from spooky trout. Summer fly patterns in my rivers are often smaller too. So lighter flies at longer distances can be a real challenge while I’m on a Mono Rig. Floating the sighter is a good solution, but an indy is often better. In these conditions, the landing of a bobber can send trout darting for cover. I could use a dry-dropper rig, but I would lose the ability to slide that suspender and make quick adjustments. So yarn is my best choice, but the minimal weight needed for small nymphs and low water isn’t enough to overcome the air resistance of yarn.
The hack of adding a single, small split shot is the smart solution.
It works. Give it a try.
Fish hard, friends.
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